The New Day

From a vision red with war I awoke and saw the Prince of
        Peace hovering over No Man’s Land.
Loud the whistles blew and the thunder of cannon was
        drowned by the happy shouting of the people.
From the Sinai that faces Armageddon I heard this chant
        from the throats of white-robed angels:

   Blow your trumpets, little children!
   From the East and from the West,
   From the cities in the valley,
   From God’s dwelling on the mountain,
   Blow your blast that Peace might know
   She is Queen of God’s great army.
   With the crying blood of millions
   We have written deep her name
   In the Book of all the Ages;
   With the lilies in the valley,
   With the roses by the Mersey,
   With the golden flower of Jersey
   We have crowned her smooth young temples.
   Where her footsteps cease to falter
   Golden grain will greet the morning,
   Where her chariot descends
   Shall be broken down the altars
   Of the gods of dark disturbance.
   Nevermore shall men know suffering,
   Nevermore shall women wailing
   Shake to grief the God of Heaven.
   From the East and from the West,
   From the cities in the valley,
   From God’s dwelling on the mountain,
   Little children, blow your trumpets!

From Ethiopia, groaning ’neath her heavy burdens, I heard
        the music of the old slave songs.
I heard the wail of warriors, dusk brown, who grimly
        fought the fight of others in the trenches of Mars.
I heard the plea of blood-stained men of dusk and the
        crimson in my veins leapt furiously.

  Forget not, O my brothers, how we fought
  In No Man’s Land that peace might come again!
  Forget not, O my brothers, how we gave
  Red blood to save the freedom of the world!
  We were not free, our tawny hands were tied;
  But Belgium’s plight and Serbia’s woes we shared
  Each rise of sun or setting of the moon.
  So when the bugle blast had called us forth
  We went not like the surly brute of yore
  But, as the Spartan, proud to give the world
  The freedom that we never knew nor shared.
  These chains, O brothers mine, have weighed us down
  As Samson in the temple of the gods;
  Unloosen them and let us breathe the air
  That makes the goldenrod the flower of Christ.
  For we have been with thee in No Man’s Land,
  Through lake of fire and down to Hell itself;
  And now we ask of thee our liberty,
  Our freedom in the land of Stars and Stripes.

I am glad that the Prince of Peace is hovering over No Man’s Land.


From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.